When the announcement was made that Def Jam was hiring No I.D. as the VP of A&R, it was a moment of personal satisfaction. For starters, like No I.D., I am from the Chicagoland area and it’s refreshing to see an often forgotten city in the three coast (East, West and Gulf) Hip Hop sphere have one of its most enduring and brightest stars get some much-deserved shine.
Aside from my apparent bias, No I.D. is a producer from an era -and ideology, for that matter- long gone in Hip Hop; but, he’s making commercially viable music and is arguably busier than ever in his career. He started at a time where a producer produced all or at least a vast majority of an artist’s album (see Common’s first three albums No I.D. produced for a reference). Similar to how DJ Muggs influenced Alchemist and bridged a gap between “old” and “new,” it was partly his mentoring, tutelage and talent that inspired No I.D.’s student, Kanye West, who took what No I.D. had been doing and introduced it to a global audience. Not letting his ego hamper the development of Kanye, Mr. West’s career took off! Don’t get it confused, though, No I.D. was not off the radar at this time as he teamed up with Jermaine Dupri and was co-producing records for Bow Wow and Jay-Z. After the American Gangster project, Kanye and No I.D. have joined forces once again and have gone on to make memorable records for Blueprint 3, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Watch the Throne. This ability to mentor a future superstar is but one reason No I.D. is a good fit to oversee those who are cultivating talent at Def Jam. This man was doing it when it wasn’t, so to speak, part of his job description.
Also, the success of Big Sean and his Finally Famous album have proven that No I.D. is worthy for the task at hand at Def Jam. I could easily go on about this man’s past accolades, but it would do a disservice to his current wave of music now (Did I mention he produced “Never Told” on J.Cole’s debut album, too?). This almost-20 years-in-the-game vet produced half of the Finally Famous album and made songs that radio gravitated to. Sure, labels are quick to sign producers or artists into corporate positions that have “hits” on the radio and those hits don’t always translate into corporate success. Def Jam’s bold move to sign quality -artists and personnel alike- calls back to the yesteryear that made them great. Similar in nature to this proud lineage, No I.D. understands music regardless of the current trend and he can make hits regardless of the artist’s age.
As the current turmoil and race to figure out the music industry’s direction continues at major labels, let’s applaud Def Jam for making a move that in a lot of ways goes against the prevailing ideology in Hip Hop and could impact the label profoundly in the years to come. But, then again, isn’t that what Def Jam was always known for in the first place?
01. “Resurrection ’95” (Ft. Common)
02. “Everybody’s Talkin'” (Ft. Al’ Tariq)
03. “Man’s World” (Ft. Beanie Sigel)
04. “Metal Lungies” (Ft. Ghostface Killah, Styles P & Sheek Louch)
05. “Smile” (Ft. G-Unit)
06. “Interlude #1”
07. “Soul By The Pound (Remix)” (Ft. Common)
08. “State to State” (Ft. No I.D., Common & Dug Infinite)
09. “Thinkin’ Cap” (Ft. All Natural)
10. “Not The One” (Ft. Madd Rapper)
11. “Ready Set Go (Remix)” (Ft. Killer Mike, T.I. & Big Boi)
12. “Primetime” (Ft. Jay-Z & KanYe West)
13. “Interlude #2 (Fate or Destiny)”
14. “The Heat” (Ft. Twista & Raekwon)
15. “Let Me Show You The Way” (Ft. Toni Braxton)
16. “Tears Of Joy” (Ft. Rick Ross & Cee-Lo)
17. “Success” (Ft. Jay-Z & Nas)
18. “Interlude #3 (I Used to Love H.E.R.)”
19. “Ghetto Dreams” (Ft. Common & Nas)
20. “Outro (Yeah!)”